* SEIU Healthcare Illinois…
The Rauner administration has commenced issuing warnings against hundreds, possibly THOUSANDS, of caregivers for people with disabilities who are facing termination under an unlawful “3-strikes-and-you’re-out” system that went into effect Aug. 1st.
The administration began sending the so-called “occurrences” as early as Aug. 31st (see linked document) for personal assistants in the Home Services Program (HSP) who help people with disabilities stay in their homes. Recipients are alleged to have “violated” an arbitrary 45-hour cap on work hours that on Sept. 5th was found to be illegally imposed under the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, by an administrative law judge.
Reports on the illegal penalty process have thus far been anecdotal to SEIU Healthcare Illinois through its Member Resources Center and to allies in the disability rights movement in Illinois.
The union for the 28,000 caregivers in HSP has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Rauner administration to confirm the number of so-called “occurrences.”
By purging thousands of workers from the program, people with disabilities will be unable to find care and could be forced into much-costlier nursing institutions. As of last month, almost 4,000 consumers in the program required more than 45 hours of care per week.
The caregivers being purged are the same workforce that earlier this month sued the Rauner administration in Cook County for illegally denying workers a 48-cent-raise that was mandated by the General Assembly in this summer’s bipartisan budget agreement.
Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President Terri Harkin:
“The news that the Rauner administration is going forward with its punitive purge of caregivers in the Home Services Program is a disaster for people with disabilities who use their care to live independently in their own homes instead of institutions.
“This is an unjust, illegal and totally destabilizing policy opposed by every single stakeholder in the program. It will permanently damage the workforce in Illinois and will reduce choice and independence for thousands of people with disabilities.
“We call on the Rauner administration to comply with the law, to IMMEDIATELY suspend his illegal “3-strikes-and-you’re-out” program and to shift their process to true dialogue and partnership with stakeholders.”
* Rauner spokesman Hud Englehart provided this response…
Pretty straightforward. The Department of Human Services is managing its overtime. The goal of the new policy is to lower expenses and reduce risks that might arise when overworked providers are delivering care. People with disabilities are getting the same number of hours of care as before. It’s just that when a provider hits 45 hours, the Department objective is to sub in rested people to deliver care. It’s like making sure tired pilots aren’t in the cockpit. Taxpayers get a better deal. Disabled get higher quality care. As in any other profession, continual policy violations result in termination.